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Guide Dogs Voted Australia’s Most Trusted Charity PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Guide Dogs AustraliaFor the second year running, Guide Dogs has been voted Australia’s Most Trusted Charity in the annual Australian READER's DIGEST Most Trusted Brand poll. Based on a survey of 2,400 respondents nationally, Guide Dogs was recognised for its industry-leading services, including providing guide dogs to Australians who are blind or vision impaired for over 60 years. On behalf of Guide Dogs, Dr Graeme White, CEO of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, thanked the public for their ongoing support and trust.

"We're humbled by and grateful for this level of public recognition in our vital work, which enables Australians who are blind or vision impaired to be more independent," said Dr White. "Vision loss is a challenging disability but our services, including guide dogs and long canes, allow people to realise it doesn’t have to be limiting." Dr White added the award was a reflection of the support from the charity's donors and volunteers.

"We wouldn't be in a position to receive this award without the assistance and continued trust of our loyal supporters," said Dr White. "Over the next 10 years it's predicted that more than 2,000 guide dogs will need to be trained to keep up with growing demand from Australians who are blind or vision impaired, at a staggering cost of over $60 million - it's the public's generosity that will make this possible."

Dr White will accept the Most Trusted Charity award on behalf of Guide Dogs at a ceremony in Sydney this Thursday, 24 July.

AHPRA and National Boards Endorse Refreshed Regulatory Principles PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The National Boards and AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) have launched refreshed regulatory principles that will underpin the work of the Boards and AHPRA in regulating Australia’s health practitioners, in the public interest. The principles are endorsed by all National Boards and the AHPRA Agency Management Committee and will guide Boards and AHPRA when they are making decisions. The principles encourage a responsive, risk-based approach to regulation across all professions within the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (National Scheme). The principles will further support decision making which is consistent and balanced. AHPRA and the National Boards will be seeking feedback on the principles in a formal consultation later in 2014 and will review them based on this feedback and 12 months experience.

AHPRA states: "The principles adopted by AHPRA and the National Boards are as follows.

  1. The Boards and AHPRA administer and comply with the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory. The scope of our work is defined by the National Law.
  2. We protect the health and safety of the public by ensuring that only health practitioners who are suitably trained and qualified to practise in a competent and ethical manner are registered.
  3. While we balance all the objectives of the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme, our primary consideration is to protect the public.
  4. When we are considering an application for registration, or when we become aware of concerns about a health practitioner, we protect the public by taking timely and necessary action under the National Law.
  5. In all areas of our work we:
    - identify the risks that we are obliged to respond to
    - assess the likelihood and possible consequences of the risks and
    - respond in ways that are proportionate and manage risks so we can adequately protect the public.
    This does not only apply to the way in which we manage individual practitioners but in all of our regulatory decision-making, including in the development of standards, policies, codes and guidelines.
  6. When we take action about practitioners, we use the minimum regulatory force to manage the risk posed by their practice, to protect the public. Our actions are designed to protect the public and not to punish practitioners.
  7. While our actions are not intended to punish, we acknowledge that practitioners will sometimes feel that our actions are punitive.
  8. Community confidence in health practitioner regulation is important. Our response to risk considers the need to uphold professional standards and maintain public confidence in the regulated health professions.
  9. We work with our stakeholders, including the public and professional associations to achieve good and protective outcomes. We do not represent the health professions or health practitioners. However, we will work with practitioners and their representatives to achieve outcomes that protect the public. "
Ophthalmologist Uses Telehealth Technology To Diagnose Patients in Outback Australia PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 09 July 2014

A quiet revolution has been taking place in Indigenous Australian eye care in the Pilbara, a remote Australian region, that is transforming lives and families. In a first for the West Australian region, telehealth technology has been used to connect patients from the remote communities of Jigalong, Punmu and Parnngurr to an ophthalmologist, Dr Angus Turner, over 1,000 kilometres away.

Dr Turner was able to make a diagnosis with the help of optometrist Stephen Copeland in Jigalong and immediately refer people for surgery at an eye intensive in Port Hedland supported by The Fred Hollows Foundation. For Mavis Arnott it meant just 48 hours between being screened and having an operation instead of waiting up to 12 months for specialist eye care. As a result she can see her 14-year-old granddaughter Brianna for the first time. The 75-year-old has returned to Jigalong, 400 kilometres north east of Port Hedland with a spring in her step and her sight restored after living for many years with blinding cataract.

During the hook-up, patients were able to talk directly about their eye conditions and treatment. The project involved all the precision of a military manoeuvre. It is the result of partnerships between Lions, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Puntukurnu Aboriginal Medical Service, the Western Australian Health Department and the Indigenous and Remote Eye Health Service (IRIS), which chartered patients from Jigalong to Port Hedland.

Awareness Campaign JulEYE Starts Tomorrow PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 30 June 2014

julEYEThe RANZCO (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists) Eye Foundation's national community awareness campaign JulEYE kicks off on 1 July challenging all Australians to get their eyes tested and to donate to important medical research that will help save sight now and into the future. For the first time ever the JulEYE campaign will be supported with a fantastic national competition ‘Imagine Missing the Big Moments in Your Life?'

The RANZCO Eye Foundation reports that each year 1 in 4 Australians are at risk of losing part or all of their vision to eye disease. If detected early, 75% of vision loss is preventable or treatable – this highlights the need for us all to stop and think about how important our eye health is and to schedule an eye check today. JulEYE, now in its seventh year, serves as an important reminder to all Australians to find out if there is a genetic history of eye disease in their family and to have their eyes checked this JulEYE.

Victorian Lions Fund Promising New Research at CERA PDF
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Australian News
Friday, 27 June 2014

Victorian Lions are funding promising new research at CERA (Centre for Eye Research Australia) to enable the early diagnosis and treatment of the eye disease keratoconus.

Keratoconus is a common condition affecting the cornea (the front covering of the eye), often developed in childhood. It is characterized by progressive corneal thinning resulting in an abnormally steep cornea and considerable vision loss. In the early stages of keratoconus, vision can be corrected by glasses or contact lenses, but as the disease progresses, corneal transplantation is often required. A significant number of keratoconus patients require multiple transplants. Almost half of all eye transplants performed in Victoria are due to keratoconus.

According to Associate Professor Paul Baird, Principal Investigator Ocular Genetics, recent advances in imaging techniques, particularly using a Pentacam corneal imaging system, now allows the detection of corneal changes in individuals who would not normally be diagnosed until their disease is more advanced.

In March this year, CERA reported conclusive evidence that corneal collagen cross-linking (CXL) slows or even halts the progression of keratoconus. CXL is a relatively simple process involving the application of riboflavin (vitamin B2) solution to the cornea. The riboflavin is then activated with ultra-violet light.

Associate Professor Baird said that early diagnosis and treatment with CXL will allow the majority of keratoconus patients to be managed with glasses or contact lenses throughout their lives, and avoid the need for corneal transplantation.

MDFA Warns For Risks of South Australians Needing Eye Treatment PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 23 June 2014

The recent state budget has left South Australians needing eye treatment in a public hospital in a precarious position, and the situation will only get worse, according to the Macular Disease Foundation Australia (MDFA).

"The situation developing in South Australia is dire. Many patients are already waiting up to 24 months for appointments for sight-threatening eye conditions such as macular degeneration and diabetic macular edema and now two hospitals in Adelaide are no longer taking new patients for treatment for these conditions. Without urgent attention this will lead to people unnecessarily losing their sight," explained Julie Heraghty, CEO of the Foundation. Furthermore, the situation will only deteriorate without decisive action. The old Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) currently has 24 outpatient treatment rooms. The move to the new RAH will result in this number being slashed to 11," she said.

The decision by Government to earmark the old RAH site for the building of a new school has appeared to close the door on a proposal to establish a much needed SA Eye Hospital in the McEwin building on this site. This facility would have had sufficient capacity for the foreseeable future. The Foundation recognises and respects the needs of public education but is highly concerned at the inability of government to meet the present and future eye health needs of South Australians.

"Given the government's decision for the old site, there is now an even greater need for the Minister for Health to work with stakeholders to provide adequate capacity at the new RAH. One must question why South Australian taxpayers are funding a superb new facility where current plans do not provide sufficient capacity to cater for future needs. Moreover, given that the Queen Elizabeth and Lyell McEwin Hospitals cannot cope with existing demand, it is simply impractical to shift substantial additional load onto them," stated Ms Heraghty.

"The Foundation calls on the Minister to urgently address the existing and future inadequacies in eye health in the state. The eye health clinicians and staff in South Australia are some of the best in the world. These people and their patients deserve to have the facilities, services and patient focused care that ensures the best chance of saving sight."

According to MDFA, changes in federal funding cannot be used as an excuse. The eye health capacity crisis in South Australia has existed for several years – long before the federal government proposed cuts to the state’s health budget. The South Australian Government must accept the responsibility to ensure that its citizens have timely access and affordability to sight saving treatment.

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